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Monthly Program

Join us via Zoom for February's Program featuring a look at the facinating life of Howard Huges. Presented by Geoff Schumacher.

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Winter 2021 FootPrints

The latest issue of FootPrints is now available.

FootPrints Archive

Lear Theater

Did you know the Lear Theater Project, amid all its ups and downs, has been ongoing for 26 years? We have put together a comprehensive set of articles for you to learn more about the history of the project and the surrounding area.

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Francis Newlands

Learn all the facts about the Newlands' name in Reno.

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Reno Heritage Fund

Read about changes to the RHF.

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The Lear Theater is listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under Criterion C for its distinctive Neoclassical Revival style design by Paul Revere Williams. The NRHP recognizes seven aspects of integrity that are necessary for a property to convey its significance: location, setting, association, feeling, design, materials, and workmanship. The Lear retains integrity in six of the seven aspects, having lost its integrity of association when the use of the building changed from religious to theatrical uses. The remaining six aspects are critical to the historical and architectural significance of the building.

The Lear possesses integrity of location, as it remains in the place it was constructed and has not been moved. Integrity of setting, which refers to the character of a property's surroundings, is especially important to the Lear. The Lear is prominently sited on the north bank of the Truckee River, at the east end of Riverside Drive, and is set back from the road to allow passerby to fully appreciate the structure and its formerly verdant landscaping. Preserving how the building relates to these natural and manmade features, from the river and its tree canopy to the scenic thoroughfare and the park to the west is extremely important, as it honors Williams' original intentions for the building. Integrity of feeling is related to setting, although it specifically refers to evoking the aesthetic or historic sense of a period of time. For the Lear, this 'feeling' is a gestalt of the setting, siting, and intact physical features of the building itself, which allows citizens to experience an awareness of its history and importance. Finally, integrity of design (i.e., the combination of elements that creates the form, plan, space, structure, and style, including rooflines, fenestration patterns, entrance and circulation routes), materials (i.e., character-defining physical elements, such as exterior cladding, original wooddoors and windows) and workmanship (i.e., the quality of the craftsman's product, such as hand-tooling, carving, joinery) refer to the physical building itself. The Lear possesses all three, conveying Williams' original design for the building, the original materials used in its construction, and the craftsmanship involved in producing such a beautifully-detailed building in the late 1930s.

The Lear is additionally listed in the Reno City Register of Historic Places. For this reason, any exterior work for the building must be approved for a Certificate of Appropriateness (CoA) by the City's Historical Resources Commission (HRC), which is the official advisor on all matters relating to historic preservation. Composed of seven citizens with specific expertise in history, architecture, engineering, and preservation, the HRC ensures the preservation of City Register listed properties by reviewing all CoA applications. All work must conform to the Secretary of the Interior's Guidelines for the Treatment of Historic Properties, which guarantees that the property will be treated appropriately and therefore protected from work that could potentially damage its integrity.